I am building a database of products (and services) and need to put similar items in the same category. That's got to be a common need, and I don't want to recreate the wheel.
For example, a Motorola Razr cell phone would be in a "cell phone" or "mobile phone" category. "Cell Phone" might be in a "communication device" category. Communication device might be in the category called "Consumer Electronics".
Google searches come up with stuff on UPC codes and SKU, yet this way of catogorizing must be used all over the place, such as with AdSense, which must group advertising by topic area.
So, where do I get the lists or standards for product and service categories?
I don't think an absolute standard for categorizing products and services exists. But for reference, you can visit alibaba.com.
You can also consult international trademark classifications for goods and services:
http://www.cipo.ic.gc.ca/app/opic-cipo/trdmrks/srch/tmSrch.do?lang=eng (scroll to the bottom and click on "Vienna Codes" -- you can then expand each and subclass by clicking on the + sign in the relevant category. These are international TM standards that get very specific!)
You can also use the standards here at WIPO (includes PDF printout of Vienna codes): http://www.wipo.int/classifications/en/